Thursday, August 16, 2007

Army Suicides Highest in 26 Years

To me this is a very serious problem, particularly since follow up mental health care for our military returning from the nightmare of Iraq is totally inadequate. After Vietnam, I had two friends commit suicide after returning to the USA. After the horrors they saw, they simply could not readapt to normal life. Sadly, I suspect we will be seeing a number of vetrans following a similar path. If Chimperator Bush truly "supported the troops," that would include adequate mental health care. Here are portions of an Associated Press story (

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Army soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new military report. The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year's high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001. Last year, "Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts," the report said. The 99 suicides included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars and 71 who weren't. About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said.

"In addition, there was a significant relationship between suicide attempts and number of days deployed" in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops are participating in the war effort, it said. The same pattern seemed to hold true for those who not only attempted, but succeeded in killing themselves. There also "was limited evidence to support the view that multiple ... deployments are a risk factor for suicide behaviors," it said.

Note that the report appears to exclude those no longer serving in the military. I suspect if those figures were included, the suicide rate would be significantly higher.

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